Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Nostalgic for Evil

Courtesy of Reason's Hit and Run blog, here's some less than encouraging news from Russia:

Although several decades younger than most of those around him, Yuri Vassilyev, 33, was happy to admit to their common cause: a fondness for Joseph Stalin, the dictator whose purges are blamed by Western historians for the deaths of up to 20million Soviet citizens.

"Look, everyone makes mistakes," Mr Vassilyev said. "Stalin wasn't a saint, but he was a great man who built up a strong state.

"After years of lies about him, the truth is coming out. We owe a lot to him. He turned the Soviet Union into a superpower that was feared and respected. A man like Stalin is what Russia needs now."

Unfortunately, this individual is not an aberration:

At least three Russian cities have announced plans to erect monuments marking his war record -- almost half a century since they were torn down in a program of de-Stalinisation initiated by his successor, Nikita Khrushchev.

A recent poll found that 50per cent of Russians consider Stalin a "wise leader", while one in four say they would vote for him if he were standing for office today.

Recently, the grandson of an officer of Stalin's dreaded NKVD secret police opened the Shield and the Sword, a KGB-themed restaurant.

Memorabilia on display includes a letter signed by Stalin, a portrait of his infamous henchman Lavrenty Beria and a bust of NKVD founder Felix Dzerzhinsky. The waitresses wear the green skirts and white blouses with shoulder epaulettes of the Soviet bureaucracy.

A "KGB-themed" restaurant? This is the equivalent of a descendant of Heinrich Himmler opening a "Gestapo Cafe". Even more disturbing is that one of the cities planning to erect a Stalin monument is Moscow.

This news is beyond disgusting, and bodes ill for the future of Russia. Josef Stalin was one of the greatest mass murderers in history. As many as 20 million people may have been killed during his reign. Imagine Germans posthumously embracing Adolf Hitler, or a future generation of Cambodians deciding to build statues of Pol Pot. Thankfully, there are those such as the Memorial organization, who are dedicated to preserving the memory of Stalin's crimes, and of his victims. I only hope that they can succeed in defeating this Russian version of Holocaust denial.


Blogger R. Delevan said...

Although if you think about it, commoditising the symbols of Communism as tourist attractions (complete, no doubt, with T-shirts and tsotchkies in a gift shop) is the taming of the beast. We've had a Pravda here in Dublin for years. There's at least one KGB bar in Manhattan I can remember.
Some Irish Americans are nostalgic and buy tsotchkies about Ireland's fight for freedom. As long as they're not sending cash and Stinger missiles to the IRA I'm cool with that.

2:34 AM  

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